10 MUST SEE PLACES IN BUDAPEST
Last update: 21th of May 2015
I have been thinking about those parts of Budapest which must not missed. This can be a sort of ‘minimal program’. There are huge number of attractions to chose from.
The below 10 attractions can be checked quite quickly because most of them are relatively not far from each other. If you come only for a day you can skip the Kopaszi gat (dam) park in the Danube gulf, depending on your time which is little farer than the other destinations, and one-two others.
The areas included is the Vicinity of the Danube between the Margaret and Chain bridge, the Varosliget City park and Andrassy road (these two next to each other) towards Deak square (the other end of the Andrassy road, St Stephen’s Cathedral is here) and the Buda Castle.
1. Danube bank
between Petőfi and Margaret bridge preferably the best view from the Gellért hill also at night, also a nice view from Fisherman’s Bastion at Castle district, but not as good as from Gellert hill. Tram No 2/2A goes along the bank at Pest side (Eastern side) between Boráros (Next to Petofi bridge) and Jászai Mari Square (at Grand Bouleward at Margaret bridge.) Pest side between Petofi and Margaret bridge is the usual place to visit, but the Buda side is good as well.
As the Danube flows in South direction, from Pest morning are the best for photography. (Back light in the afternoon.) From Buda side the afternoon is better, if we want to photograph the Pest side, Parliament building for example.
Time needed: 1-2 hours
2. Széchenyi spa
– this is the place must not miss, unless you don’t like bathing/swimming or don’t like baths in particular. Several hours can spend here easily thinking about what is life all about. Arguably (or not..) the best spa in Budapest, and perhaps the biggest in Europe. Three outside pool (spa, adventure pool, swimming pool) and lots of inside pool with different water temperature can be found here. Just a gorgeus place to relax. You can play chess as well in the pool if you like. Several saunas, steam, infra cabin also available.
Time needed: 2-4 hours
3. Margaret island
Very nice place with huge trees, lots of place with a possibility to play soccer or frizby, a small zoo, a japan garden, a big open bath, a swimming pool, an open bath, an 5,35 km long jogging track all around the bank, several interesting buildings, lots of flowers, vehicle rent. The island is approximately 2,8km long and the biggest width is 500m. Not a must have in winter.
Time needed: 2-3 hours
4. Heroes square and City Park
( Városliget.) A nice lake, Vajdahunyad multi-styled romantic castle, Budapest Zoo and Plant park, Agricultural and Transport museum, huge green area, Széchenyi spa, Museum of Fine arts, and Art hall, huge Skating ring, several soccer field, ping-pong tables, Beer tent, Concerts, Petofi hall can be found here.
Time needed: 1-2 hours
5. Castle district
The Budapest castle district is an Unesco World Heritage site. The Castle, as usually called by the locals situated on the top of the Castle hill. The National Gallery building, Mathias church, Fisherman’s bastion(see below picture) can be found here. Nice atmosphere between historic buildings, History museum, nice restaurants can be visited here. The Castle is surrounded by the Castle walls all around. The Castle can be accessed from Szell Kalman(formerly Moszkva) square the bus starts from the upper level that can be reached by stairs from Szell Kalman square or by the funicular from the Buda side near the Chain bridge. Below the Castle a cave and cellar system can be found.
Time needed: 2-3 hours with transport
Things to see in the Castle:
– Fisherman’s bastion (on the picture) with view on the Danube and Parliament building
– Mathias church
– Hospital in the Rock (very interesting, the hospital used during the War, later was designed to be a nuclear shelter with separated water and electricity supply)
– Buda labirinth (unfortunately often closed)
– National gallery (the building with the green roof)
– History museum
– Arany sas (Golden eagle) pharmacy museum
Under the Castle huge cellar and cave system can be found. Unfortunately quite hard to go there. One of the entrance in the Uri street.
There are many upgrading is on process in the Castle, and many more projected as well. The one of the newest is the Varkert (Castle garden) Bazaar.
6. Parliament building
The Parliament building is the Biggest Parliament building in Europe and the third biggest in the World. Situated at the Bank of the Danube between the Chain and Margaret bridge little bit close to the Margaret bridge at Pest side. There are 691 rooms in the 268m long and 96m height building. The building has been built in Neo-gothic style.
Time needed: 1-2 hours
7. Opera, St Stephen’s cathedral and Andrassy road.
Budapest Opera is a famous place for music fans. One of the famous director of the Budapest Opera was Gustav Mahler. The opera can be found next to Andrassy road near Deak square. Andrassy road is a nice historic alley connecting Deak square with the Varosliget City Park and is an Unesco World Heritage site in Budapest. The First Continental Underground, now M1 (built in 1896) runs at the same direction under the Andrassy road with ancient looking metro cars.
Time needed: 0.5-1 hours
8. South Danube bank park “Kopaszi gát” bank
This newly formed 50 000 m2 beautiful green area between the Danube river and the gulf is absolutely worth to visit. Access from the Buda side parking at the end of the peninsula. With it’s big trees, nice surrounding, natural values, the park quickly became a popular place in Budapest.
Time needed: 2-3 hours
9. House of Terror Museum
– This is a unique museum in Budapest, can be found in Andrassy road left side from Deak square direction. Here can be seen the tools of Terror under several periods of Hungary. In each room different periods can be seen starting from 1944. Perhaps this museum is not for everybody. Must decide somebody wants to see or not.
Time needed: 1-2 hours
10. Váci street shopping street in the inner city
To visit this colourful place between Fovam square and Vorosmarty square is an interesting program. Not a cheap place, but I think it is a good program just to walk through and enjoy what we see (and sometimes hear). Lots of things to buy and see for tourist and locals alike. Similar places can be found in front of St Stephen’s cathedral and the vicinity of Deak square.
Time needed: 1-2 hours
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The above is obviously a basic list cannot cover everybody’s needs and preferences. So for this reason we give some extra options to chose from.
Art in Budapest
1. Vasarely Museum
One of the most interesting Museum is about Victor Vasarely’s (1906 – 1997) work (at least for me). Simple and more complicated geometrical shapes, colors, patterns make interesting art. Victor Vasarely was born in Pecs (as Vásárhelyi Győző) and died in Paris.
He went to Paris in 1930. He is the most prominent painter of the Op-Art (Optical art) movement. He has lots of very nice compositions.
The bigger Vasarely museum is located at Pecs, but there is one in Budapest as well in the III rd district at Szentlelek square.
2. Check a temporary exhibition at the Budapest Fine art museum
at Heroes square. Currently (10th December 2014) you can check the exhibition from Rembrandt’s works. Unfortunately the museum is closed in 2015, due to reconstruction works. The museum has many pictures, but only a few is on display usually. The building is huge and interesting. The Egyptian collection is very interesting.
3. The new Palace of Art
next to the Danube is a new Concert hall in Budapest with high tech stage technology. A very interesting place architecturally as well. It is a bit off center though. The contemporary Ludwig museum is also located in this building. Next to the Palace of Arts, the new National museum is also interesting to visit. The also new building changes it’s elevation colours at night.
4. Art market Budapest
8-11th of October 2015, Millenaris Park Cultural Center. Exhibitors coming from 20 countries, and there are about 20,000 visitors from various countries. The Art market is about Contemporary art, the first fair was in 2011.
5. Check Wamp the design fair.
This is a very interesting occasion every two weeks, when contemporary artists, designers, and many people interested in arts meets in a fair.
5. Mai mano haz of Photography
The Mai Mano haz can be interesting for anyone. Mai mano was a Royal phototographer in the 19th century, who ordered the 4 storey building at Nagymezo street for photography. This is absolutely premium part of the city. The Mai mano haz (house) is a smaller family like place with temporary exhibitions.
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Budapest is a beautiful city with lots of natural values. Beautiful hills, islands can be found here. The most interesting areas for nature lovers are usually can be found at the border of the city, but there are some interesting places inside the city as well.
If we don’t have so much time, we can check the City parks (Varosliget, Nepliget) and the Margaret island. The other perhaps more interesting destinations are more time consuming, is better if we spend several days here.
1. Caves – the Palvolgyi cave and the Szemlohegyi
cave can be found at North Buda near to Szepvolgyi street. The Palvolgyi is the more common one, with 400m paved and lit up exhibition area. The temperature in the cave is around 10 degree Celsius, so some kind of warm clothes preferred together with a proper shoes as well.
2. Buda hills area
– the Buda hills is a huge area in the West part of Budapest. It takes some time to go there. The highest point ( Nagy Kopasz ) is around 530m above the sea level.
3. Soroksari Danube branch
The Soroksari Danube branch is a 50km long branch started at South Pest at the North side of the Csepel island. This is not very wide, and has an abundant wildlife.
4. Szentendrei island
The Szentendrei island start at North Budapest and it is a long island. There is a golf course there, and interesting areas. Only can access outside of Budapest.
5. The city parks:
There are two main city parks here: the Varosliget and the little more abandoned Nepliget. Both have app. the same size. We can see lots of birds, or squirrels in these parks, woodpeckers, robins, sometimes more rare species as well.
6. Margaret island
The Margaret island is a top Budapest destination discussed above in good weather conditions. The island has an interesting wildlife: squirrels, woodpeckers, singing birds can be found here, and a mini zoo as well with an eagle, buzzards, ducks and storks.
7. Danube at North
The North part of the Danube is quite nice and interesting with protected natural areas, islands. Huge trees at both sides of the Danube. Nice places to walk. In winter interesting wildfowl can be seen here.
8. Danube at South
The vicinity of Haros gulf and island is an interesting protected area. Unfortunately lots of mosquitos there.
9. Kopaszi dam area at South Buda
The Kopaszi dam is a very interesting area. It has interesting wildlife (heron, singing birds, and other species) as well, but because of the huge number of visitors daytime mostly can see in early morning and late afternoon.
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Budapest top events
If you like one of these events very much it is logical to organize the trip to Budapest at the given time. Apart from these events there are huge number of events in Budapest during the whole year including many gastro, wine, art or cultural festivals.
10-17th of August 2015
The Most popular festival in Europe is the Sziget (Island) Musical Festival. It is held on the Obuda island in every August. The area of the island is app 1km2. According to official statistics around 400,000 people come here every year. There are huge slides there for kids as well. At the South side of the island there was a boat factory. This is not the only island in Budapest there are many more including huge ones, like the Csepel (257 km2, only 10% inside Budapest area) or the Szentendre island (56km2 North Budapest). Other famous island is the Margaret island between the Margaret and Arpad bridge.
Hungaroring Formula One car race
24-26th of Julius 2015
To be precise the car race is not in Budapest, but in the nearby Mogyorod in North direction. The first race was organized in 1986 here. The race is in the valley and so easy to see almost from everywhere. The Grand Prix is usually held in the Middle of Summer.
Red bull air race
04-05 July 2015
The best Pilots of the World above the Danube, the last Red Bull air race was held in 2009 in Budapest.
Roxette in Budapest
19th of May 2015 I think it is not so easy to get a ticket for this one.
Andrea Bocelli in Budapest
22th of November 2015
August 20th firework in Budapest
20th of August 2015 The National Holiday in Budapest with huge firework along the Danube, huge mass at the Danube bank and nice to see from the Buda hills as well.
Wine festival in Budapest
9-13th of September 2015, Buda Castle wine festival
Christmas fair in Budapest
27th of November – 31th of December 2015, Vörösmarty square.
See more events in the Main menu.